Joey Votto

Joey Votto in no rush for a long-term contract

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All this talk about a contract extension for Adrian Gonzalez makes for a natural transition to National League MVP Joey Votto, who will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

Votto earned $525,000 this past season while batting .324/.424/.600 with with 37 home runs, 113 RBI and a 1.024 OPS. Faced with potential that he could make $7 million as a first-timer through the process, the Reds appear interested in at least buying out his arbitration years. While many Reds fans are hoping to have him locked up for the long-term, Votto indicated to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he’s in no rush to sign an extension.

“I don’t know as far as beyond three years. I think it’s a real unfair question to ask,” Votto said. “This is not me saying I don’t want to be here. But last year was a difficult year for me. This year was a better year for me. It’s really hard for me to think three years ahead, five years ahead, seven years ahead or 10 years ahead. When [Troy] Tulowitzki signed that 10-year contract [with the Rockies], I was blown away. I can’t imagine seeing myself 10 years from now saying I want to be here. It’s an overwhelming thing to ask a young person like myself and say ‘here’s a lot of money. Be happy with this over 10 years, deal with it.'”

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty informed John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he has had preliminary discussions with Votto’s agent, but that they haven’t “talked numbers yet.” Meanwhile, Votto told Sheldon earlier today that he doesn’t plan to give the Reds any sort of hometown discount as part of a long-term deal.

“I’m not going to disrespect the people ahead of me that paved the way for those types of earnings and the people behind me that expect a certain amount or fair value,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt the people behind me. That’s not fair.”

It’s a harsh reality, but that doesn’t mean there’s any reason for panic here. Votto, 27, remains under team control through 2013, so there’s still ample time to negotiate.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.